From Academic Kids

Missing image
Fram in Antarctica in Roald Amundsen's expedition.

Fram ("Forward") was a ship used in expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctic regions by Norwegian explorers 18931912. Fram was probably the strongest wooden ship ever built; it was built by the Norwegian shipwright Colin Archer for Fridtjof Nansen's 1893 expedition where Nansen planned to let Fram freeze into the Arctic ice sheet and float through the ice sheet, via the North Pole.

Fram is said to be the ship to have sailed furthest north and furthest south. Fram is currently preserved in whole at the Fram Museum in Oslo, Norway.



Nansen was a dedicated Polar explorer and wanted to explore the Arctic further north than anyone else. To do that, he would have to deal with a problem that many sailing in the polar ocean had encountered before him: the freezing ice would press and crush a ship. Nansen's idea was to build a ship that could survive the pressure, not by pure strength, but because it would be in a shape designed to let the ice push the ship up, so it would "float" on top of the ice.

Nansen called upon the shipwright Colin Archer from Larvik to construct him a unique vessel. Fram was built with a wood called greenheart as the outer layer to withstand the ice, and built almost without a keel to handle the shallow waters Nansen thought he would encounter. The rudder and propeller were made so that they could be pulled into the ship to protect them from damage. The ship was also extraordinarily insulated, as Nansen planned for living in it up to five years.


Fram was used in several expeditions:

Explorer Years Region
Fridtjof Nansen 1893–1896 Arctic ice sheet
Otto Sverdrup 1898–1902 Arctic Islands
Roald Amundsen 1910–1912 South Pole

Through the Arctic ice sheet

Due to driftwood findings in the region of Svalbard, Nansen speculated as to whether there was an ocean current flowing beneath the ice sheet, bringing driftwood from Siberia to Svalbard. With Fram built, Nansen could explore this.

Nansen laid out on the expedition that came to last for three years. When Nansen understood that Fram would not pass the North Pole directly by the force of the current, he and Hjalmar Johansen set out to reach the pole by ski. Reaching 86 14' northern latitude, he had to turn back to overwinter at Franz Joseph Land. Nansen and Johansen survived on walrus and polar bear meat and blubber. Finally meeting a British expedition, they could reach Norway only days before the Fram arrived there.

Sverdrup's scientific explorations

In 1898, Otto Sverdrup led a scientific expedition to the Canadian Arctic islands. Fram was slightly modified for this journey; its freeboard was increased.

Fram left harbour June 24 1898, with 17 men onboard. The goal was to chart the land of the Arctic Islands, and to sample the geology, flora and fauna.

Named after Fram

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